Media > Kemba Walker Signs With Under Armour

~ Kemba Walker isn’t letting the NBA Lockout get in the way of his business off the court. The 1st round draft pick of the Charlotte Bobcats recently took a major step forward towards establishing his brand by signing with Under Armour, according to CNBC. Walker becomes the first player in this year’s draft class to sign with a shoe company.

 I know what you’re thinking … why Under Armour? It would be logical to assume that Walker would be a great fit for Nike. The owner of the Bobcats happens to be Michael Jordan, Mr. Nike himself.

 Under Armour is an emerging brand though that is looking to make an impact in the basketball shoe market that is dominated by Nike. Walker’s star has been on the rise since leading the University of Connecticuit men’s basketball team to a national championship. If Walker makes a big impact early on his career, it could turn out to be a great move for him and Under Armour.

 Walker definitely joins pretty good company. Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, NFL top draft pick Cam Newton, and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes are all currently signed to promote with Under Armour.

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NBA Draft > They Are Who We Thought They Were … Right? (Draft Recap)

~ I’m not really sure what to make of how the 2011 NBA Draft panned out for all of the teams. Overall, this is going to be a very tough draft class to grade over the next couple of seasons. There was no clear-cut no brainers for selections. The case can be made that the number 1 pick could have been someone different.

 The draft board held up to form for the first 3 picks and then it became a matter of who’s the best available and what trades can be made. A handful of teams drafted pretty well, just not who many expected.

 The Top 3

 Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and Enes Kanter were the top 3 on the board and respectively went in that order. Cleveland gets their point guard of the future in Irving. Minnesota gets a talented scorer to pair with Ricky Rubio, and Utah gets the top big man on the board in Kanter.

 Any one of these 3 could have went number 1 in the draft so the Cav’s, T-Wolves, and Jazz should feel good about their choices.

 Kanter was the wild card on the board, his stock rose leading up to the draft. Once he was selected, that’s when the complexion of the draft began to change.

 Cleveland not only had the number 1 pick, they had the number 4 pick as well. Two picks in the top 5 normally has a pretty good outcome. However this was not a strong draft class and that made for slim pickings, even at the top of the board.

 The Cav’s took Tristan Thompson at 4 and that was a bit of a surprise and maybe even a reach. I would’ve liked to have seen the Cav’s make a strong push to use their 4th pick to move up 1 or 2 more spots to grab Kanter or Williams to go along with Irving. That by far would’ve made for a great draft night. However, Irving is still a great pick at 1 and will be marketed big time by the team.

 Minnesota took Derrick Williams at 2 and then the rest of their picks (mostly foreign players who may or may not make it to the league) left plenty of room for criticism. The Timberwolves need a lot of work and it’s safe to say that they may need more than Cleveland at this point. (at least the Cav’s have stability at their head coaching spot) Focus on the good though … Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio are in place, now we get to see if Minnesota can properly build around them.

 Utah had a pretty good draft, addressing needs in the backcourt and frontcourt. Kanter was a great pick for them, and Alec Burks at number 12 will help with depth at the guard position.

 All 3 of these teams addressed needs they had and took advantage of their positioning.

 Kemba, Jimmer, and … Brandon Knight

 Once the top 3 were off the board, there really wasn’t much juice left in this draft with the exception of where Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were going to end up. It took for Brandon Knight to be taken by Detroit to help set the wheels in motion.

 The talk on the board was that if Knight slipped out of the top 5, it would push both Walker and Fredette down as well. Knight ended up slipping and Detroit was smart to take him. He’s a solid point guard that will help trigger the Pistons rebuilding job. There is a logjam in their backcourt with Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, and Rip Hamilton. Two of those three are most likely going to be moved.

Walker ends up in Charlotte and he’ll get his chance to be the man there. Michael Jordan’s executive moves have always been up for debate, this year he drafted pretty well. Walker has floor general written all over him.

Jimmer Time goes to Sacramento and I think that’s the perfect landing spot for Fredette. The Kings are offensive team that is going to put points up. It’s also the only way they are going to draw attendance next season at a time where they are trying to keep from relocating the franchise. Fredette does not have to focus on being a full time point guard there. He’ll need to defend more than he ever did in college. However let’s be clear here, Fredette will be on the court to shoot the ball and score. Anything else that comes along with that is a huge bonus for Sacramento.

 

TO CHECK OUT THE ENTIRE DRAFT BOARD, CLICK HERE 

Trade Central 

The trade rumors had as strong a buzz as the draft prospects, arguably stronger. Indiana and San Antonio used the draft to trade for opposite reasons. The Spurs picked up prospects that may help with their pending rebuilding project. Tony Parker is currently still a Spur. However, George Hill is on his way to Indiana. The Pacers were a playoff team last season, so this move made more sense for them.

Jimmer and Kemba were acquired through the help of draft day trades. Charlotte picked up Walker and Big Man project Bismack Biyombo (coolest name in draft). It cost them Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston, who now head to Milwaukee. The same deal also involved Sacramento which helped them land Jimmer and reacquire John Salmons from the Bucks.

The trade I liked the most involved the new world champion Dallas Mavericks in a 3 team deal with Portland and Denver. The Mav’s came away with point guard Rudy Fernandez from Portland. He’s a great fit for a team that is built to win more in the short term. Portland also swapped Andre Miller to Denver for Raymond Felton. All 3 teams also came away with potential players from the draft as well.

Overall, this draft class is not expected to be one of the more memorable ones. However, that’s the beauty of sports. Projections and Predictions at the end of the day are just exactly that.

Welcome To The 2011 NBA Draft: The REAL NBA Trade Deadline

 ~ This year’s NBA Draft does not have the potential star power of the 1996 class that brought in Iverson, Kobe, Marbury, and Allen. There is no LeBron, Melo or D. Wade coming out of this class. It’s low on star power, lower on overall potential talent and despite all of that, the 2011 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing drafts of recent memory.

 The reasoning behind all of that may have to do with the legal troubles surrounding the NBA which could eventually lead to a lockout. A work stoppage is the last thing the league wants. However much like the NFL lockout, it’s looking inevitable.

 With a pending lockout overshadowing the league, this year’s draft has become more of a spotlight for NBA players who could be put on the market to be traded. The teams need to get their salary cap situations under control now as much as they can before a lockout happens.

 Operating under that kind of thought process has opened the door to enough trade rumors to almost drown out any buzz surrounding this year’s draft.

 Look at some of the names that potentially could be relocating:

* Tony Parker was reportedly on the trade market in 2010 and he’s back on it now apparently. Toronto and Sacramento have both inquired about his availability. They also have the numbers 5 and 7 picks respectively. 

 The Spurs are clearly in a position now where they have to rebuild an aging team. Parker is the one out of their core 3 that has the most trade value. San Antonio is said to be looking to get a top 10 draft pick in return. Perhaps to get a shot at Washington State’s sharpshooter guard Klay Thompson.

 

* Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson, Lamar Odom, and Monta Ellis have all been thrown into the mix as players who could be on the move. Their respective teams have all been preparing trade scenarios that include picks from this year’s draft.

 

This past season reflected a transition in the league. Oklahoma City and Chicago took big steps forward and even though Miami came up two games short of a NBA title, they’ll be back next season perhaps even stronger. This year teams are not only looking to get into a better position financially with this draft, they are also looking to get younger and more athletic.

 

 

 The draft this year does have potential storylines that involve the players who are eligible.

 Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are expected to go numbers 1 and 2. Minnesota has been apparently listening to trade offers for the number 2 pick and while Cleveland is expected to take Irving at number 1, what they do with their number 4 pick is just as much a mystery and could impact their decision to take Irving.

 The true drama (if there is any) starts at the number 3 spot with the Utah Jazz. If they take the top big man Enes Kanter or point guard Brandon Knight. Teams are trying to get high enough in the draft through trades to perhaps grab Kanter. Once he comes off the board, it could open the door to an array of trades and surprise picks.

 

What started out as a draft class projected to be one of the weaker ones in recent history has now turned into must see television all of a sudden.

 One thing is for certain is that with a lockout about to happen that could put off free agency over the summer, teams are going the trade route to help shape their rosters. What better platform is left than the NBA Draft to serve as the newest trade deadline.

NBA Draft > Cleveland Wins No. 1 Pick, Irving On The Radar

 

~ The Cleveland Cavaliers had just about as good a night as a team can possibly have that didn’t make the playoffs. The Cav’s came away from the NBA Draft Lottery with the number one pick. To add icing on the cake, the Cav’s also have the number four pick in the draft. The team that within the last 12 months lost LeBron James to South Beach and endured a nightmare season with one loss after another, has finally come across some good fortune. The number one pick came from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Baron Davis trade. The pick only had a 2.8 percent chance of winning and it wasn’t protected. It ends up turning into the top pick in the draft. Cleveland is most likely to take Kyrie Irving of Duke with the number 1 pick to jumpstart the rebuilding process they are currently going through.

The draft class this year is not a deep one by any means. Teams are going to have to dig deep with their scouting departments in finding a gem in this year’s draft. That’s why having 2 of the top 5 picks in the draft is such a big win for the Cav’s. The Minnesota Timberwolves will draft second and it’s expected they will take Derrick Williams of Arizona. Once Irving and Williams are off the board, that is where the draft is expected to take a turn for the unexpected. The Clippers can now only imagine what a lineup with Irving and Blake Griffin could have done for their franchise.

The Utah Jazz came out ahead as well by securing the number 3 and number 12 picks in the draft. The number 3 pick came from the New Jersey Nets courtesy of the Deron Williams trade. There is a sub plot here to keep an eye on. It remains to be seen if Williams will sign his contract extension with the Nets. If he decides not to sign, the Nets could possibly come away from the trade with Utah empty-handed. To acquire Williams, the Nets also gave up Derrick Favors who was their 1st round pick last year and they also gave up their 1st round pick for next year. This would be a major setback for their rebuilding plans.

Here Is A Look At The Draft Order

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from L.A. Clippers)
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Utah Jazz
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Toronto Raptors,
6. Washington Wizards
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Charlotte Bobcats
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Golden State Warriors
12. Utah Jazz
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets
15. Indiana Pacers
16. Philadelphia 76ers
17. New York Knicks
18. Washington Wizards (from Atlanta)
19. Charlotte Bobcats (from New Orleans via Portland)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis via Utah)
21. Portland Trailblazers
22. Denver Nuggets
23. Houston Rockets (from Orlando via Phoenix)
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
25. Boston Celtics
26. Dallas Mavericks
27. New Jersey Nets (from Los Angeles Lakers)
28. Chicago Bulls (from Miami via Toronto)
29. San Antonio Spurs
30. Chicago Bulls

Additional Info: Pro Basketball Talk

Photo: Getty Images

Media > Gus Johnson Reportedly Moving From CBS To FOX

~ Gus Johnson is moving on. The very popular NFL and NCAA men’s basketball play by play announcer could not come to terms on a new contract with CBS and is now reported to be headed to the FOX network.Johnson has become a household name in recent years with fans of March Madness because of his high energy style of broadcasting basketball games.

The New York Daily News recently reported that some within CBS “were not thrilled with Johnson’s rise to March Madness’ most popular voice.” The number 1 play by play man there right now is Jim Nantz.

Nantz is “The Voice” of the college tournament and is also the lead announcer on the NFL coverage for CBS. It was becoming obvious that Johnson’s stock was indeed going up though and that may have meant his price tag was going up as well.

Johnson most recently did play by play for the Pacquiao-Mosley fight on Showtime / PPV. It remains to be seen what will happen with Johnson’s coverage of boxing. My prediction is that somewhere down the line a spot is going to open up for Johnson to be a lead announcer for one of these networks. He has been gaining momentum every year. For now though, FOX is getting a good one for it’s football coverage.

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